brandy [bran-dee] noun
From the Dutch word brandewijn, meaning “burned wine.” A deep-amber liquor that can be distilled from a large variety of bases. Brandy is often made from grapes, but any fruit, rice, and even corn can be made into this cognac. In fact, it can be made from any liquid that contains some form of sugar. Once distilled, the liquid is typically aged in oak barrels, which lends richness of color and flavor. Cognac is aged at least a few years, during which it develops perfume, aroma, taste and its individual character. While some may be enjoyed young at age 2 or 3, many are matured for much longer to allow more complexity to develop. Depending on the food source, there might be a special name, such as the apple-based Calvados. Physical location can determine name as well, such as with Armagnac from the Gascony region of France.
Brandy can be used in all sorts of ways in the sweet kitchen, such as in Christmas pudding, hard sauce or anywhere its distinct, warm, potent flavor would be appreciated.